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05 July, 2006
Driving home from work one day, I noticed a middle-aged Asian woman getting off the bus. As soon as her foot hit the pavement, she opened an umbrella to shield herself from the sun.
It's an odd scene in this country where tanned skin is a symbol of youth and the leisure class. Not only do we worship the sun here, but we're willing to pay to get a fake tan; the deeper, the better.
Quite the opposite in Asia, where fair skin is a barometer of beauty and wealth. The privileged are pampered creatures shielded from the sun. Famous celebrities usually have light skin, and dark skinned women aspire to get the look with bleaching lotions and creams.
This reminds me of a male cousin who saw me after fifteen years and said, "How did you get so dark? You were so light skinned when you were young". He said this with a bit of dismay that made me laugh because my arms were only slightly tanned from all the business traveling I used to do, yet somehow he found it an unfortunate thing.
It's amusing to think how the concept of physical beauty varies all over the world. And who's to say any of us is wrong? As long as we realize it's only skin deep, I don't think it's cause for concern.
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